Like The James Brand and to some extent Tactile Turn/Tactile Knife Company, Big Idea Designs is a company that hit some paydirt in the halcyon days of Kickstarter, and turned that into seed money to launch an EDC empire. Its big hit was a machined pen and from there, the brand branched out (stop me if you have heard this all before).
Big I (its more common shorthand for “Big Idea”) has since released pens, tools, watches, and now — somewhat belatedly, in my opinion — a knife. Dubbed the Ti Knife, it borrows the handle from Big I’s folding razor blade holder and puts an S35VN blade in the middle.
If you like the Big I Designs’ aesthetic, then the knife is a welcome and natural extension of its product line. If, like me, you are coming to this as a knife first and a Big Idea product second, then, well … it’s complicated.
In short: To me, the Ti Knife is slabby and hideous — but it’s undeniably effective and will appeal to Big I Design fans.
- Steel S35VN
- Grind Hollow ground drop point
- Lock Frame lock
- Blade length 2.8"
- OAL 6.8"
- Weight 3.8 oz.
- Price $220
- Country of origin China
- Low-profile “Dietz” style flipper
- Quite effective cutter
- Nice pocket clip
- Good flipping action
- One of the ugliest folders ever made
- Not a great value
- Very slick
- Very out of date compared to the peak of the market
Big I Designs Ti Knife Review
Design & Features
The Ti Knife is a titanium framelock flipper. It sports a well-designed reversible, deep-carry, over-the-top pocket clip. There is a narrow cut out on the blade that likely acts as a nail nick to open the blade two-handed and what Big I Designs calls an “inline flipper.”
The flipper tab design, in reality, comes from a clever knife-modder named Alexander Dietz who worked on Boker Kwaiken mods. Dietz’s innovation was to clip off the front corner of a knife handle to expose the rear tang of the blade, allowing that tang to be used as a flipper tab. The advantage of the Dietz flipper was that it avoided the protuberances and fins commonly required by flipper designs.
Many knives, including the very nice Vero Engineering blades, now use these style flippers to great effect. The blade rides around the pivot on ceramic bearings.
The handle is solid, very smooth, stonewashed titanium. The blade is a drop point that is so low it is almost a spearpoint. It is made of S35VN and comes stonewashed and hollow ground.
The hollow grind is quite pronounced. The knife’s appearance is a mishmash of geometry angles and what can only be described as awkward curves and cuts. More on this below.
The Ti Knife cuts well, thanks in large part to the very pronounced hollow grind. It is quite thin behind the edge. “Behind the edge” is a knife term meaning the final point along the blade, before the actual cutting edge; it is the last point of the blade that is uniformly thick.
The bearings work well and provide a different feel from bronze washers, steel bearings, or Teflon.
The Ti Knife shows off a steel-on-glass sound and deployment fluidity that you only find on knives with ceramic bearings. Whether you like that or not is a preference — for me, nothing beats my Thys Meades custom, a beautifully tuned knife with an excellent detent and good stainless steel bearings.
There is little that will rust or tarnish, thanks to the stonewashing on everything. The Ti Knife, as a cutter, is perfectly competent: neither outstanding nor below par performance-wise.
Remarkably, according to the Ti Knife Kickstarter video, this is the second full design of the Ti Knife. The other, according to the video, was abandoned because it was fundamentally not good.
This version of Ti Knife has three major flaws. First, this is without question, one of the two or three ugliest knives I have ever reviewed — obviously, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but to my eye, this isn’t beautiful. The master cutler Bob Loveless spoke of visual tension — a balance between the lines of a knife that seems to make the object feel like it is moving and cutting, even when stationary.
I see no scintilla of visual tension, or any other form of visual appeal, in this knife. It is blocky, angular, and swoopy — all in ways that repel the eye. If the hideousness of the Pontiac Aztek was made into a knife, it would be the Ti Knife. Of course, like this offering from Big I, the Aztek maintains its own cult following.
Secondly, from a manufacturing perspective, borrowing the handle from another product is a great way to keep costs down. But the result is a knife that looks like the napkin doodle of a 12-year-old just getting into knives. The Ti Knife seems to be a knife designed by someone that just got into knives and knew very little about human-centered design. A lot of boutique EDC companies come from one of two backgrounds: knife-making or industrial design. But I can’t find traces of either in the Ti Knife.
And the build problems continue. The Ti Knife seems downright primitive compared to the top of the market. The TRM Neutron 2, a knife that is $40 cheaper, is superior in every way. It has better steel, a better grind, a more refined handle, and a smarter grip.
Finally, there is the price: $220 for a slabby, TFF was okay 10 years ago. Now, it’s just kind of sad. If this knife were $120 it would be okay, but when it is $100 more than something like the Hogue Deka with Magnacut, it’s exceptionally hard to justify purchasing the Ti Knife.
Big I Designs Ti Knife: Conclusion
In my final analysis, the Ti Knife works but is ugly, out-of-date, and expensive.
That said, if you are committed to Big I Designs products, then it’s the best knife you can find. Otherwise, keep looking.